Team Burgoon Q & A with Heather Petri
I’ve heard Heather say that being strong is showing up as you are, in the moment. These are not just words, this is what Heather lives and what she invites. If you’ve crossed Heather’s path here between punches, planks, or heard her at the end of the room lifting heavy things, you know she keeps it real and she leads the cheering squad in whatever area she’s in. Thanks for letting me dig into your story, Heather! ❤️
Here she is!
Workout at BBB start date: 2-18-2014
Is working out and being active something you had as a part of your life prior to 2014?
I grew up dancing, all kinds: jazz, kick line, ballet, pointe, tap, hip hop (my favorite - are you surprised? hahaha). But that all ended during college. After that, working out was very sporadic. Blips on the radar. Initially, I was young enough and ‘thin’ enough I didn’t worry about my activity. Then I had a child and tried to be more active - but I always struggled to make the time to do so, as a single mom who worked full time. I struggled to find anything that interested me enough to stick with it. By the end of a work day and chasing a kiddo around, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and stare at the tv and snack. Right? Who doesn’t get that feeling?!
How did you make that change and what kept you sticking with it this time?
In 2014, when I started at the gym I was at such a low point in my life. Probably the lowest I’d ever been, in such a dark place emotionally. I felt like I had nothing left to give, no strength. Perhaps in some respects, feeling like I was face down, flat on the ground, was a helpful thing. Because it was almost like I felt like I couldn’t get any lower, fail any more than I already had. It makes me so incredibly sad to think about that time of my life and knowing the extent of the dark and lonely place I was in. Sometimes, I think it isn’t until we reach the absolute bottom that we find the complete recipe for grit and perseverance. And I think that is what happened with me. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t an absolute struggle many days, in the beginning, to get my rear into the gym. I was scared. So much that I was nauseous for months. Every day that was a gym day, I felt sick. Determined, but sick. Full of anxiety. Unsure of whether I could do it. Yet I knew I had to try. So I could be the strongest version of myself, for myself but also for my son.
I also think part of my push to stay with it, in the beginning, was because I watched my child struggle. And if he wasn’t giving up, how could I? Every day he fought to find the light and some joy. Every, single, day. How could I not do the same? He inspired me. Still does. Bring tears to my eyes as I’m thinking about it right now. His spirit fuels me and fills me.
Once the gym became more of habit, nausea was gone and some strength found, I was able to really feel, emotionally and physically, the strength that was awakening in me. It was always there, it had just become covered with life. And that continues to fuel me to keep moving forward. Now, as I’m training for a powerlifting competition, it’s important to give my body more rest days that I would normally. And I’m not liking that one bit. Walking through the red door, fueling my mind and body through physical activity and sweat, it’s what I do. It’s what I need. And when I can’t do it, I feel anxious, wound tight, and unable to focus. What a difference three years makes!
Describe your morning routine, what does it look like, and what is the first thing you eat and do on a normal day?
I’m awake by 5:30 am at the latest on weekdays. And typically my body wakes me up between 6 and 6:30 am on weekends. The first thing I do is attempt to wake up my teenage son. That’s next to impossible. HA! Then I make myself a cup of coffee, no sugar, but I do add cream. I just haven’t been able to go to black coffee yet. Then it’s on to stage 2 of waking my son up. 🙄 🙄Once he’s up and in the shower, I eat one hard boiled egg. Shortly after that, I move on to my second cup of coffee and usually another hard boiled egg or a Chobani yogurt. I typically have a “second” breakfast a couple hours later. Steel cut oatmeal with PB2 or just with some berries. Or a multigrain English muffin with natural peanut butter. Then I add some fruit to my second breakfast, usually a banana or berries. There is little deviation in my breakfast routine. Consistency in all areas is what’s helped me stay on track on this journey.
What is your favorite exercise to do downstairs with the trainers?
I love all things weights and strength training. But, I love incorporating TRX, wall sits, push ups and anything with the ab dolly. And hitting bags. There’s nothing quite like it. I freaking love hitting bags!
It’s such a great way for me to kind of equally zone out and focus, taking out any and all frustration, pain, anger, stress . . . whatever, on those bags!
What is your favorite way to get cardio into your week?
Boxing. Love it. And sometimes, if we do enough deadlift reps fast enough, it feels like cardio! HA!
What is your food strategy and prepping style?
Oh goodness. I’m super lazy when it comes to food. Seriously. I’m not lazy in the gym or when I’m training. I’d train more if I could! But cooking and food prepping? NAH. I won’t even lie. I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t love cooking (except baking homemade chocolate chip cookies...hahaha. BALANCE!). BUT food is an integral part of this process if you want to be successful. I believe the saying is, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” I eat really boring food. All the time. Same thing, on repeat. A LOT of eggs. They’re easy and fast to make. You can make them several different ways to obtain some variety. I’m no longer ashamed to admit, that I often buy prepackaged hard boiled, peeled eggs. Target has these bags of six. They’re expensive (for what you could make your own for). But they’re a great way for me to supplement making my own as well. I eat so many, that having a prepackaged bags of these on hand at all times, helps facilitate me making better food choices every day. If I’m hungry for a snack but am on the run, I can just open the bag and grab an egg or two. It keeps me from grabbing (and buying) less healthy things to eat when I’m at home and out and about. I eat a lot of baked and crock pot chicken. Dash of sea salt with either. In the crock pot, I either cook the chicken breasts in low sodium organic chicken broth or occasionally in salsa (this is REALLY tasty shredded in scrambled eggs for breakfast tacos...and TACOS of all kinds are my very favorite!). I make chicken breasts 2-3 times a week - just adding it in throughout the week to salads, quinoa, brown rice, veggies. Heck, sometimes I just grab handfuls of it on the go.
I always have brown rice, chicken breasts, Chobani yogurt, eggs, steam in the bag veggies, apples, berries, and bananas on hand at ALL TIMES. These are my staples day in and day out.
And while I don’t believe in ‘cheat days’. I do believe and follow an 80/20 rule. I eat really clean and well about 80% of the time. The other 20%, I indulge and enjoy all the things most people love to eat, but know isn’t exactly considered proper fuel for my body. Whether that’s eating tacos out. Or dessert. Or chips and guac (another favorite). Cheeseburger and french fries.
I think it is important to note, that when I started this journey almost three years ago, I didn’t really focus on the food first (sorry Jason...don’t kill me).😬 I tried and I was just too overwhelmed by it all. Baby steps are what I allowed myself. And grace (I talk about that later). I started with small changes. Adding more veggies. More eggs. More fruit. I added good things before taking out the bad. Then slowly I weeded out the bad. Watched my portions. Stopped eating after 8 pm. Added more water, etc. I want people to know that you don’t have to do it all and do it all perfectly, at once.
I like to keep ingredients basic and add as little butter, salt, pepper, etc. as possible. For this recipe, I don’t add anything to the pan beside the ingredients. I use a nonstick pan to sautee the sliced up sausage, browning it on one side.
Heather Petri's Sausage Egg White Scramble
Egg whites (I buy the carton because it’s easy)
Chicken apple sausage (I prefer Aidell’s, but any will do) or sometimes I use turkey sausage crumbles
Optional! Green, Red and Yellow Pepper chopped
Note: I don’t measure any of this.
Use a nonstick pan to sautee the sliced up sausage, browning it on one side.
Flip the slices and add the tomatoes (and peppers if I’m using them).
Throw in the spinach for a bit before I add all the egg whites.
Add as much or as little of each ingredient as I feel like, I make enough for about 5 meals.
I do add a pinch of salt sometimes after everything is cooking in the pan.
Makes 5 servings
This is my go-to recipe because it is easy and quick to make, with very little mess and easy cleanup. I’m all about efficiency and time-saving!
What’s your favorite taco in the Twin Cities, we all gotta know!
Rusty Taco (R-Taco) is my go-to (mostly because it’s really close to my house and I can stop there on the way home from the gym, AND they have breakfast tacos all day, every day!) But when going out for tacos in non-sweaty gym clothes for a ‘sit down’ meal, I’d say Rojo and Barrio are my faves. I’m sure there are many great places I’ve never heard of or tried, so please, tell me your favorite taco places people!! Inquiring minds want to know!
What are you currently working on or learning about as it relates food or fitness?
I love learning more about technique and really listening when training. For so long, I feel like I would just do what the trainers told me because I pay for them to be the boss of me when I walk through that door. I was so focused when I started on just trying to make it through each session, that I maybe didn’t always listen as well as I could have. I am more intent now on learning what my body is doing and why. What benefits it and why. What I should do more of or less of, and why. The more they tell me, the better! And I may not remember it all, but the knowledge is so good. I love to understand the mechanics of things as I learn what my body is capable of. And I feel the more knowledge I have, the more power I have, to continually make the right choices for me and my body.
What have you learned about your body specifically by weight training?
Wow. I had NO IDEA I could ever be this strong. I just realized how obnoxious that sounds. But it is true. I had not one belief that I could ‘lift weights’. I truly didn’t believe my body was capable of what it can now do. I didn’t believe I would ever have muscles that you could actually see! I’ve learned that my body is capable of so much more than I’ve ever given it credit for. I’ve learned that my body responded so differently once I added in strength training and weight lifting. I learned that I could get leaner, faster, by incorporating these things. I learned that moving my body more means everything hurts less (this applies to personal training too). Yes, I can lift heavier things, but weight training has shown me how beneficial strengthening ALL the muscles can be for your entire body. I think many people (including myself prior to this training) leave out so many muscle groups when they’re working out. It seems like the focus is spent on biceps, quads, glutes and abs, by most people. Once I started weight training, I realize how many muscle groups were being ignored and how by training all of them, you become incredibly more capable and fit. It sounds really plain and simple but it really is a profound A-HA moment, once you start to understand the importance of working all the muscles and how that impacts lifts. And I stand up taller, my posture is better!
What have you learned about your body specifically by doing personal training?
That my body loves being pushed. And my mind usually does too. Some days the mind is a little more grumpy about it, though. 😣 Training has allowed me to better understand the limits of my body and how much more capable it is than I realized. I continually surprise myself, as I get pushed, of what I can do what my body can do. Incorporating personal training and strength/weight lifting has reminded me that usually, the limits we have are the ones we’ve placed on ourselves. That our body, if we give it the proper training, rest, and fuel, will surprise us EVERY TIME. As with anything in life, you’re better at some things than others. Cycling is hard, REALLY hard for me. It pushes my cardio beyond what anything else seems to. Personal training used to be that way for me. But with time and dedication and putting in the work, my strength and endurance have improved tremendously. Early in my days of training, my goal was to be able to get in a double or back to back training. That, in my mind, would be a success. Once I was able to achieve that, then I wanted to make it to a triple. YESSS. I’ve done that. I’ve not tried a quad yet . . . hmm . . . maybe I should add that to my goals list?! HA.
In order to take care of yourself, is there anything in life you have had to let go of in order to be healthy, strong, and your best self?
Oh goodness . . . there is so much I’ve had to let go of. The idea of perfection. The idea of needing to please others or fit into social norms. The idea of fitting into boxes that others have built to contain me. The idea of my plan not always aligning with the universe’s plan. And I’ve had to add grace, acceptance, and self-love. In my opinion, this journey isn’t possible without letting some stuff go, but also adding some stuff in. I’ve learned to put myself first. That’s damn hard to do when you’re from a long lineage of people pleasers and a single mother. Adding the process of self-love is perhaps the most crucial part of this process. Because without it, it’s challenging to make much progress in any of the other areas. I have to love myself through it all. Through not meeting goals as fast as I can. Through not training as hard as I can, some days. For not being able to do something I feel I should be able to do. For bad food choices or too many indulgences. For guilt that I don’t like cooking and therefore don’t do much in the way of food prepping. And the list could go on and on and on. Self-love and grace. Two things that are paramount in this process, in addition to letting things go. It’s been a crucial lesson the last few years, for me. To the point, I started using the term ‘Graceful Warrior’ in my writing. Hashtagging it on almost everything I wrote. It became a personal mantra and reminder for me, that I need to show up giving not only others grace, but myself (extremely hard for me to do). And a reminder that I am a warrior. That no matter how hard life gets. I will always fight. It has become such a thing, that I got it tattooed on my forearm! So I never forget!
In what ways do you feel like you are different, have grown, or changed from going on this strength journey?
I’ve become more confident and willing to believe I can accomplish more than I think I can. As I’ve experienced this strength journey, I’ve realized my body and mind are stronger and more capable than I’ve ever given myself credit for. I think I’ve been a fighter and perseverer for a long time in my life, but as I’ve gotten stronger, it has reinforced my values of grit and perseverance. I know that I can lift heavy weight, both literally and figuratively, in my life. It’s also reinforced the basic idea of setting a goal, creating a plan, and using consistency and commitment to achieving that goal (and the grace you need to grant yourself when obstacles arise).
Since I started lifting and training, I’ve become more fierce. More focused. And more passionate about taking what I’ve learned and applying it to all aspects of my life (finding a job, writing my book, getting through hardships of any kind). I’ve learned the importance of having an outlet to release negative energy. Fitness is an INCREDIBLE way to help you cope with life’s hardships. I see a therapist, and I have sweat therapy. BOTH are so important to my life, I make time for them.
And there are the more obvious changes of living a healthier lifestyle. Making more healthy choices because I don’t want to sabotage all of the hard work I’ve been putting in for three years. I think it is human nature for us to sometimes sabotage the ‘good’ in our lives because we believe we aren’t worthy of it. As I’ve been on this journey, and my confidence and self-worth has increased, it has helped me love myself more - as is. Even though I’m working on changing who I am in some ways. I like to think of my journey as becoming more of who I’ve always been. Tapping into the young girl I’ve always been, that has been covered with life, other’s expectations, hardships, adulthood, broken hearts, being told you’re not good enough, etc.
What would you tell your younger self about your body and your health, something you have learned along the way?
Love yourself through every change you’ve been through in life, including your body. It’ll change. You’ll change. There’s no such thing as perfect. Don’t define yourself by other’s standards. You do you, always. And, as life changes and throws you obstacles, don’t put yourself on the bottom of your list. I know you believe it is important to take care of others, but you can’t do that if you don’t take care of yourself, FIRST.
Do you have a favorite quote?
How do I pick one??? This is hard. Here are a few I like:
Being you is being beautiful (my son’s quote from when he was age 11)
Done is better than perfect.
Trying is doing.
She has a fire in her soul and grace in her heart.
And the fighter still remains.
How about music?
I made a playlist of some of my favorite songs that motivate me before I train or lift. When I compete in lifting I always, always listen to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)”, among several of these other songs. The playlist is public on Spotify (but it does include songs with explicit lyrics, be warned!)
Thank you, Heather, for all the personal truths you shared this week, for being so honest and opening up about your process and journey. We are so lucky to have you cheering us along and giving us your story here and in the gym.
And in case you missed it, click picture/video below for the full video link Heather made with our very talented, Angela Heins.